Tollywood hero and Jana Sena party chief Pawan Kalyan has finally jumped into active politics and vowed to emerge as the third force in Andhra Pradesh politics which is basically bipolar between ruling TDP and opposition YSR Congress. Congress and the Left parties have no representation in the 175-strong AP Assembly.

Addressing a large public meeting at JNTU Grounds in the port city of Kakinada on Friday evening, Pawan Kalyan, who is fondly called as Power Star by his fans, called upon people to reject the Rs 2.25 lakh crore special economic package announced by the Centre for AP and demanded that special status, as promised to it during the bifurcation of combined state, be granted immediately.

“I have actively canvassed for BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi and TDP’s Chandrababu Naidu in the last elections, but now I am very sorry to tell the PM that the economic package announced by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley is not acceptable to us. We want nothing short of special category status for AP,” said Pawan Kalyan to a cheering crowd.

This is the first pubic rally of Pawan Kalyan and he is planning to hold more such rallies in each of the 13 districts in AP in the coming days. His first rally was keenly watched by both the TDP-BJP and Opposition YSR Congress leaders as they wanted to assess which way he would tilt. However, it appeared that he wants to occupy the third force space that was vacated by the Congress.

Pawan Kalyan, 47, who has a large fan following among the youth, has accused the BJP-led Centre of betraying AP by denying the promised special status, but he also attacked the previous Congress-led UPA for splitting the state much against the will of the people of AP. He named his rally as “Seemandhrula Atma Gaurava Sabha” (self-respect rally of Seemandhra people).

Terming the Rs 2 lakh plus crore package as “two rotten laddus” (likening them to laddus offered during the current Ganesh Navaratris), Pawan Kalyan asked whether CM Chandrababu Naidu would accept them or throw them away. “The Centre has clearly betrayed us, now it is up to our leaders to fight for justice (special status). If you cannot do it, we Jana Sena will fight for it,” said the actor.

Though Pawan Kalyan has lashed out at the inaction of the TDP MPs and ministers for not protesting the economic package and their failure to achieve the special status, he stopped short of extending his support to the Opposition sponsored AP bandh on Saturday. “I leave it to you to decide whether to join the band or not, but my view is that the public should not suffer due to agitations,” he said.

Pawan Kalyan, younger brother of former Union minister and Rajya Sabha MP Chiranjeevi, is living with his third wife, Anna Lezhneva, a Russian. He has already made it clear that he doesn’t believe in caste or creed and his only concern was to better the lives of the common man. “I live on the money you (fans) give me by buying tickets of my films. I come from a middle class family and I am one now,” he told the Kakinada crowd.

Pawan Kalyan’s speech was greeted with suspicion by the YSR Congress while CM Chandrababu Naidu told a meeting of TDP MLAs later in the evening that the actor’s anger was understandable. YSR Congress spokesman Ambati Rambabu told this newspaper: “We are surprised why Pawan Kalyan hasn’t demanded withdrawal of TDP from NDA as a mark of protest.”

Rambabu found fault with Pawan for not supporting Saturday’s bandh. However, CM Naidu was soft on Pawan Kalyan, saying that the actor had expressed the anger among general public over the Centre denying special status to AP. “Anyway, we are still fighting for the status and we have no issues with him (Pawan),” Naidu said.

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